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The world around us is ever changing, technology advances at a pace everyday so much so that what was once science fiction (remember Knight Rider talking to a watch) is now science fact.

This fast pace also applies to the world of branding. Back in the day, brands where clearly defined through their logo, strapline, tone of voice etc… These of course would evolve through time and styles change, (such as are we skeuomorphic, flat 2D or gradient). But fundamentally these were the limits, weren’t they? But as technology moves forward, so to do brands in the way that they engage with their audiences.

Technology may advance and trends may change but one fundamental thing remains the same – how we as humans use all of our senses to evoke thoughts and feelings. When the colour blue is used it evokes feelings of trust, intelligence and understanding, thus becoming a core part of healthcare branding, (it’s also a colour that we have recently adopted!). So, as mediums like Amazon Echo, smart speakers and voice shopping become part of everyday life, our sense of hearing becomes an ever more important element of branding and this is where sonic branding comes into play.

So, what is sonic branding? Does it work and is it really the new kid on the block when it comes to branding?

Firstly, sonic branding is the use of a sound, or tune, that is used to recognise a brand – a logo in sound form if you will. Mastercard recently undertook an 18-plus-month process of creating a sound that would engage with a global audience. This sound is created to apply to markets across the globe so each part of the sound will appeal to different regions and cultures. Certainly with more technological devices coming into play, the use of sound will become a key part of any brand’s armoury. As I’ve said, the human brain uses all senses to engage with the world and there is no reason why the use of sound shouldn’t have as equal a part to play in branding as that of colour and tone of voice.

However, one question remains. How new is sonic branding? McDonald’s was using it back in the early 2000’s thanks to a certain Mr. Timberlake’s ‘I’m loving it’ tune and of course the Intel theme will resonate with most people. Both of these aim to make audiences feel different emotions, either possibly making you feel secure in the case of Intel or evoking happy times with McDonalds (or not). These memories and feelings that are created are all part of branding and making you have an emotional attachment to a company, but maybe the first sonic branding of all was way back in our childhood. We all know the distinctive sound of the ice cream van, the feeling of summer and asking your parents for a treat – all evoked from that distant sound of Greensleeves being played over a shonky tannoy system. So, maybe the originator of the sonic branding movement is actually Mr Whippy or it could even be attributed to the person who originally penned Greensleeves, Henry VIII.

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